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The Business - Part 2

By Andy Warren,

Today we have a guest editorial from Andy Warren.

In Part 1 I discussed how we’ve evolved the relationship between IT and our employers. In general I consider that to be a positive shift, but I think we’ve still got some challenges to deal with, so let’s look at those:

  • “The business” isn’t necessarily interested in our long term success or happiness. IT tends to get treated much like the outsourced office cleaning team, meaning it can be replaced at any time without anyone knowing or caring much about the change. When was the last time the business asked IT about their satisfaction?
  • IT tends to be loyal to their department rather than the business, and within that, we tend to have a lot of what I call IT mercenaries – interested in driving hours more than value.

What I’ve described isn’t all of it, nor is it new; it’s the same tension that exists between any client and consultant. Client wants value, consultant wants hours. Client wants to spend less per hour, consultant wants to increase their value per hour. It’s the right model for a lot of cases, but I’ll argue that it’s the wrong model for core IT functions.

The right model? One of those horribly over-used and badly used buzz words:  partners. I think the most successful businesses have a symbiotic relationship with their IT team. Think about the difference that might make to both sides.  Things that are hard to fight for in the client/consultant model start to make a lot more sense – training would be a big one from the IT perspective, consolidation and cost reduction from the business perspective, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What if we started saying our “business partner” and “IT partner”, would that change how you work today if a partnership existed? I understand getting there would take some work, but would it be a healthier model? Take a look at some of the things you wish for right now, would talking to a partner instead of a client make those wishes happen? And would they be good for your business partner?

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